Calif. Republican attacks Sessions over marijuana policy

Calif. Republican attacks Sessions over marijuana policy
© Greg Nash

Rep. Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherCalifornia Republicans seek turnout boost to avert midterm disaster House Republicans open California office to defend majority GOP lawmaker claims without evidence that YouTube shooter 'could be' an illegal immigrant MORE (R-Calif.) is sharply criticizing Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard Sessions Trump to lawmakers pressing Sessions to investigate Comey and Clinton: 'Good luck with that' Five takeaways from Trump adding Giuliani Trump disputes report that he calls Sessions 'Mr. Magoo' MORE's decision to allow federal prosecutors to target marijuana users in states where use of the drug is legal.

In the Thursday statement on his website, Rohrabacher ripped Sessions for the decision, which the lawmaker warns will only hurt GOP chances at the ballot box during November's midterm elections.

"The attorney general of the United States has just delivered an extravagant holiday gift to the drug cartels. By attacking the will of the American people, who overwhelmingly favor marijuana legalization, Jeff Sessions has shown a preference for allowing all commerce in marijuana to take place in the black market, which will inevitably bring the spike in violence he mistakenly attributes to marijuana itself," Rohrabacher said in his statement.

"By taking this benighted minority position, he actually places Republicans’ electoral fortunes in jeopardy," he added.

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The California lawmaker's statement came after Sessions earlier Thursday rescinded orders that directed federal prosecutors to deprioritize prosecution of marijuana-related cases in states where the drug is legal. Recreational marijuana, already a booming industry, became legal in Rohrabacher's home state earlier this week.

Republicans including Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators press administration on mental health parity Overnight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt's four email addresses GOP fractures over push to protect Russia probe MORE (Alaska) and Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerPoll: Almost two-thirds of Texas voters support legal recreational marijuana House, Senate GOP compete for cash Overnight Cybersecurity: Senators want info on 'stingray' surveillance in DC | Bills to secure energy infrastructure advance | GOP lawmaker offers cyber deterrence bill MORE (Colo.) have joined Democrats in denouncing Sessions's move.

Rohrabacher also noted that Sessions's decision appeared to contradict President TrumpDonald John TrumpClinton takes swipe at 'false equivalency' in media coverage of 2016 election Trump asked Netanyahu if he actually cares about peace: report Official: Trump to urge North Korea to dismantle nuclear program in return for sanctions relief MORE's campaign pledge to allow states to determine their own marijuana policy.

Trump told a local news station in July of 2016 that he wouldn't support using the federal government to "shut down" recreational marijuana at the state level in places where it is legal.

"I wouldn’t do that … I think it’s up to the states, yeah. I’m a states person. I think it should be up to the states, absolutely," Trump said at the time.

"By attacking the clear will of the American people, the attorney general contradicts President Trump’s campaign pledges to leave medical and recreational marijuana questions for the states to decide," Rohrabacher said Thursday.

Sessions's announcement Thursday threw the recreational marijuana industry into chaos and prompted a wave of backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.